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Junk: A Poem About Loss

Chill Clinton is a professional writer with an interest in a variety of forms.

A Poem About Loss

When my grandfather passed away last year, my mother asked me if I would be willing to write a poem to read at the funeral reception. I struggled at first with this request, not wanting to write something overly sweet or sentimental for a room full of people who knew, just as well as I did, that I hadn't played an active role in my grandfather's life during his final few years.

Despite me not spending as much time around the extended family due to differences and distance, I still felt it important to do write something thoughtful to honor my grandfather's memory and support my grieving mother, and the result of that process is the poem below.

In "Junk", I externalize many of my feelings toward change and loss that I experienced when I heard of my grandfather's passing, using a remodeled apartment complex to symbolize the inevitable need for life to evolve and persist.

Ultimately, my hope that somehow the pieces of what once was still exist in a state of eternal reverence give way to the realization that memories are fleeting, and the light people leave in the world after they depart can only exist in the active efforts of those who had the privilege of knowing them.

Junk

The block of apartments
across the street from my place
changed hands last Summer.

They weren’t attractive buildings-
vinyl sided, colored the kind of milky white
where you can’t tell if it’s time or taste
that progressed since it last looked pretty.

Before the siding came down,
the workers removed every green shutter
leaving thin rectangular lines, like crows feet,
where the wood absorbed the sun’s bleach
for who knows how long?

By the same afternoon,
the whole building was nothing
but grayish concrete blocks.

But I got one good look at the outline
of where they used to be.

Thin pieces of painted wood.

Thin pieces of a home in flux.

I hope that somewhere,
there are angels in a junkyard,
looking over the plots
where all the broken
and discarded shutters
from all the apartment homes rest.

But I know that the wood
has already been processed,
and repurposed to be useful
somewhere else.
The sun-stained vinyl too.

And so instead,
I want to one day notice things
so I can imagine
what they will look like as outlines.

So I can picture
what once lived within the lines of a memory.

So I can fill them in
with paint and pencil over and over.

© 2022 Chill Clinton

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